This is the third in a four-part series profiling each of Penn State's quarterbacks.
Since 2008, Penn State has had a total of 15 quarterbacks:
Bill Belton, Rob Bolden, John Cabot, Paul Cianciolo, Daryll Clark, Pat Devlin, Curtis Drake, Steven Hill, Paul Jones, John Kelly, Tyler Lucas, Matt McGloin, Shane McGregor, Kevin Newsome and Garrett Venuto.
In that group are starters, backups, mop-up guys, Wildcats, summer workout drillers, walk-ons and scout team heroes.
Wildcats and QBs who later threw a no-hitter for the Penn State baseball team -- as Hill did last week – aside, McGloin has filled every one of those roles.
(Although as a senior pitcher for West Scranton High School, McGloin did have a 7-0 record.)
A lifelong Notre Dame fan, McGloin came to Penn State in 2008 as a preferred walk-on. He first caught notice as a scout team quarterback, malaproply known by the late Joe Paterno as McGroin, “that kid from the coal region.”
He eventually earned a scholarship, then throughout the 2010 and 2011 seasons he fought – and eventually beat out -- Rob Bolden for the starting job.
Now, as he heads into his fifth season at Penn State this fall, McGloin is trying to earn the nod as the No. 1 signal-caller for the fourth time in his Penn State career.
Under Paterno and son Jay, the quarterbacks coach, McGloin won the job twice – midway through both the ’10 and ‘11 seasons. Then, last fall McGloin was named the starter by interim head coach Tom Bradley. And the red-headed right-hander was back in the hunt again this spring, trying (again) to get the starting nod -- this time from new head coach Bill O’Brien and his QB coach, Charlie Fisher.
That’s three head coaches and two quarterback coaches in the span of six months.
McGloin took the Lion’s share of snaps with the first-team offense throughout spring practice – including the Blue-White Game, when he completed 6 of 13 passes for 103 yards, with a pick and an 11-yard touchdown pass to Christian Kuntz. The numbers were eerily similar to Paul Jones’ 6 of 15 for 113 yards, with a pick and a TD, too.
Although McGloin has thrown over 37 dozen passes in actual games over the past two seasons compared to zero for Jones, some fans are calling for Jones – an academic casualty the past two years -- to be No. 1.
McGloin said he doesn’t care.
“I’m probably going to be looked at as the underdog again for some odd reason, but it really doesn’t affect me,” he said on Saturday. “It’s a competition and some people are going to like you and some people are going to hate you. You’re going to have to deal with that as a quarterback.”
In fact, after the Blue-White Game, McGloin told a ring of media members three reporters deep that under O’Brien and Fisher this most recent QB battle has a different feel to it.
“It's more fun out there,” said McGloin. “The most important thing is that we are being told the truth. Coach is being honest with us, and that's something that hasn't happened too much” in the past.
For his part, Fisher had good things to say about McGloin after Saturday’s scrimmage.
“When Matt played within himself and didn’t try to force anything, he did a really good job,” Fisher said. “He knows that as long as he stays within his skill set he does a good job. He had a good spring practice. He finished the last few weeks really well.”
Over the past two seasons, McGloin started just 10 games, but recorded seven 200-yard efforts (10thall-time at Penn State) and ranks 11th in career completions (243). Even if he just matches his stats from 2011 – which he should easily exceed under O’Brien’s offense, if he does become the starter – McGloin could finish his career in Penn State’s top six all-time for completions, attempts and TD passes.
As it stands, McGloin’s numbers from his first two years at Penn State – overall campaigns that at the team level were decidedly dysfunctional in myriad ways – are quite similar to those of Chuck Fusina, a three-year starter for the Nittany Lions.
As he heads into his final season at Penn State, McGloin’s career numbers are 243 of 448 for 3,119 yards, with a completion percentage of 54.3. He’s thrown for 22 touchdowns and 14 interceptions – with just five picks in 2011.
Fusina, for his part, over his first two seasons as a starter and reserve, completed 234 of 423 passes for 3,524 yards, a completion percentage of 55.3, with 26 touchdowns and 20 interceptions.
That was for 1976 and '77. Fusina’s numbers actually trailed off a bit his senior season in 1978.
But, if you recall, Fusina still managed to lead Penn State to an 11-1 record and finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting.